Home » The 5 Best Cooking Classes in Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto

The 5 Best Cooking Classes in Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto

Sling sushi, street food, and side dishes right in Japan, restaurant-style with the best cooking classes in Japan! More than a delicious food experience, take the skills and recipes home to create traditional Japanese food right in your kitchen through a 5-star rated cooking class.

Each cooking class on this list features unique foods from the top traveling destination of Japan that come highly recommended and verified by travelers. From Tokyo’s sushi scene, Osaka’s Michelin-starred takoyaki, or the multi-course Kaiseki meal of Kyoto, there is a class for any destination.

While delicious food is a top draw, these classes are nothing without the great guides and teachers who lead them. Among the instructors are first-class sushi chefs, superior home cooks, and restaurant-owning masters who bake personality and skill into each lesson. With years of both cooking and teaching experience, they have their students rolling sushi or dishing out Japanese-style pancakes restaurant-style in no time.

Be sure to also check out our guide to all the best Japan food tours.

Among those who attend are couples, groups, and families. Many of the classes are happy to incorporate kids if traveling with a family. For a couple, there isn’t quite anything more romantic than cooking for one’s partner. If traveling alone, these classes of less than 10 people could be a great way to meet people.

Whatever your tastes or traveling situation, read on to find the right cooking class for your next trip to Japan.

What are the best cooking classes in Japan?

Tsukiji Fish Market Visit with Sushi Making Experience from a Sushi Master

Making a sushi roll in this hybrid tour and Tokyo cooking class

Receive instructions directly from a master of the craft through this dual tour and sushi class in Tokyo. This is the best class for sushi and one of the great recommendations for fish lovers.

Before the sushi chef class begins, the small group is taken on a tour of Tsukiji Market, the famous and bustling fish market of Central Tokyo. For the last hundred years, Tsukiji has been the main fish depot in Tokyo and one of the largest fish markets in the world. Today, many Michelin Guide-rated sushi establishments, of which there are 41 in Tokyo alone, procure their daily goods at this trade center.

The guide explains how the catching and selling of Japan’s food chain works as the group meanders through the stalls, ware hawkers, and fish. The guide ensures he introduces each group to various kinds of Japanese food and the lore of the last hundred years of Tuskiji activity.

After the tour, the guide will lead the group to the Shinjuku workshop to learn how sushi is made at a real restaurant. Once everyone has arrived, the second half of this 4-hour experience will begin.

First, the instructor will explain the importance and method of making the perfect sushi rice. Each sushi restaurant has its own cooking methods and recipe for the rice, and without the perfect rice, the nigiri won’t taste right.

After making the rice, the instructor will lead the group through using Japanese knives and techniques for cutting different kinds of fish. This delicate and knowledge-intensive skill can take 10 years to master! Under the instruction of the chef, and thanks to their many years of experience, you’ll be able to make great nigiri sushi during this Tokyo cooking class.

Finally, chow down. The group can view the rewards of their hard work and have the perfect lunch of their own creation knowing they tried one of the best cooking classes in Tokyo.

While you won’t quite be a master chef after this lesson, you’ll definitely come away with the know-how to make your own sushi at home.

For more info, see the tour on Viator.

Authentic Japanese Cuisine with Small-Group Wagyu Beef and 7 Japanese Dishes Tokyo Cooking Class

An example of seven traditional side dishes you might make in this lesson along with a dessert

This authentic experience introduces you to the Japanese cuisine of kaiseki-ryouri (懐石料理), the Japanese version of a multi-course meal. Of the Tokyo cooking classes on this list, this is the best way to taste Japanese food at its most traditional. It also avails to the visitor the most wide-ranging methods used to cook Japanese cuisine.

Kaiseki is an art and historically significant. It covers a multitude of Japanese traditions over the last thousand years using only fresh and (usually) regional ingredients and seasonal vegetables. Chefs carefully balance each small plate for the taste and color of the dishes that explore the culinary traditions of the samurai and thousand-year-old temple ceremonies.

Through this fantastic experience, you’ll gain a deeper knowledge of Japan’s rich cuisine history by making seven different dishes. Your guide will provide useful tips over the three hours to ensure you can reproduce these dishes on your own at home.

Some of the dishes incorporated into the lessons are:

  • Tamagoyaki (a side dish of rolled egg)
  • Different kinds of miso soup and dashi
  • Sunomono (AJpaense cucumber salad)
  • And more!

This class will incorporate wagyu beef as well. Wagyu literally means “Japanese meat,” with the “wa” standing for Japan and “gyu” meaning meat. The most expensive beef in the world, all wagyu beef originates from cross-breeding with Japan’s native cattle. The meat is differentiated by its marbling and tenderness that lock in moisture and add flavor. Extensive authentication measures are required for certification.

Vegetarian options are available. The tour also welcomes kids and families. A total of eight may join your group.

See more about this TripAdvisor Travelers’ choice experience on Viator or more cooking classes from the host’s website: Cooking Sun. (They began their first Japanese cooking school class in 2014, and have been cooking up a storm ever since).

Osaka Cooking Class: Japanese Culinary Traditions in Japan’s Kitchen

Learn in the best Japanese cooking class in Osaka how to make the world-famous Okonomiyaki, a kind of delicious and savory pancake

This cooking class will hit the highlights of the most famous dishes of Osaka City, Japan’s food lover paradise. You’ll have a great teacher with good tips to guide you through some of Osaka’s famous recipes.

Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and near the previous capital of Kyoto. It’s famous for being a bit more relaxed than Tokyo, a fun place to enjoy the nightlife, and for a long history of food. Many of the court foodstuffs and food artisans were procured through the Osakan markets for hundreds of years to feed the ancient aristocrats and court officials. That’s how it earned the nickname “The Nation’s Kitchen.”

Osaka and Osakan food remain popular. For the incredible experience, many Japanese foodies visit the city from around Japan. For example, Kuromon Ichiba is a local market famous for both its history and offerings of rare cuisine, including the poisonous blowfish delicacy. Many others come for the wide range of fried street food and ramen choices.

Two main dishes that you’ll make come up with every discussion of Osaka: Takoyaki and okonomiyaki. This tour will teach you how to make the famous dishes Osakan style.

Takoyaki is a delicious fried octopus ball similar to a fritter. Okonomiyaki is kind of like a saucy, savory pancake. While you can find these foods anywhere in Japan, Osaka is the birthplace and most famous place to eat them. In fact, it’s the only city in the world where you’ll find a Michelin-starred takoyaki stall.

Besides the two street foods, you’ll also make two side dishes: Miso soup and Dashimaki, the latter which is a rolled kind of Japanese egg roll. In addition, your amazing host will provide beer, matcha tea, and the traditional taiyaki dessert.

A small group class that is open to a family or couple. For more information on this five-star rated experience, see Viator.

Traditional Tea Ceremony Wearing a Kimono in Kyoto Maikoya: Tea, Treats, History, and Tea Making in a Traditional Tea Shop Setting

Try your hand at making matcha green tea at one of the best cooking classes in Japan in a traditional tatami room setting

This Kyoto studio experience opens the deep world of tea and Japanese culture to visitors. More than tea, travelers have the unique chance to meet a geisha or maiko, experience the beauty of kimonos, and taste Japan’s teas through the intricate and harmonious tea ceremony.

First, arrive at the location in Gion, one of Kyoto’s most gorgeous neighborhoods. Preserved as a time capsule of Japan’s ancient life, the buildings and streets retain the charm of Japan’s Edo period, when Kyoto was the capital.

Among the wood buildings, you’ll find a plethora of eateries continuing the traditions of Japanese cooking and tea shops. One such building and shop is Maikoya. From the time you enter, you’ll be transported into a world of craftsmanship that includes painted wall panels, gardens, and tatami mats.

Once your session begins, you’ll choose from a selection of kimonos, Japan’s traditional clothes. Elegant, wearing the kimono properly requires technique, especially the tying of the middle sash called an “obi.” Your guide will help you with the proper way of donning the garb while explaining the significance and history of your outfit.

Next, you’ll be ushered into a traditional tatami room for your tea-making class and experience. Your Japanese guide will explain the centuries-old traditions that originated from the samurai and have been passed down to modern times.

Your guide will use each tool to make matcha tea, which requires both proper decor and method. Once you’ve seen how it’s done, it’ll be your turn. Try your hand at getting the fluffy, rich texture of matcha just right. While you imbibe, try some of the Japanese sweets on offer.

To wrap up your experience, you’ll have the opportunity to take pictures in the area and even dress up in a samurai costume.

This experience is highly recommended on TripAdvisor and Viator.

Ramen Cooking Class at Ramen Factory in Kyoto Studio

The best cooking class for making ramen allows you to customize your broth and toppings

Spend a fun afternoon and lunch making ramen with this special class in Kyoto.

Delicious, accessible, and deceptively simple, this is a great cooking class for the kitchen-talented and kitchen-challenged. With clearly written instructions and guides who speak excellent English, you’ll find your way around all the steps to forming your very own lunch ramen.

Ramen is one of those meals that’s become indigenous to Japan, making this a must-try class. it’s in the same line of culinary fame as sushi rolls, though not quite as complex. Originally crafted after Chinese noodles, over more than 100+ years Japan has flavored, crafted, and branded the dish into its own image.

Ramen generally features a kind of egg noodle of variable chewiness and thickness that depends on the region. The noodles are added to a boiled soup that comes in a variety of flavors, such as miso ramen soup style or shoyu (soy sauce). This class will introduce you to those various flavors and the many kinds of toppings that give the dish a Japanese zing.

You’ll start this ramen class at your own table, following the instructions to form, knead, and cut dough for the noodles. The local instructors will be there to assist at all times, so you can create a dish worthy of Tokyo.

Once you’ve finished creating the noodles, you’ll cook your meat or tofu. Then, select from various kinds of ramen soup flavorings, which include miso, shoyu, tonkotsu, and more. Mix and match soups and sauces to form a unique flavor to your liking.

Cook the noodles in the soup and pack on the toppings. now you’re dish is ready!

Try eating the noodles as many people in Japan do, if you dare. Ramen is often eaten with chopsticks and a spoon and loudly slurped to emphasize the diner’s satisfaction. Many Japanese people even brag about not chewing the noodles at all as they suck one bowl after another down.

This five-star course is available most days of the week. See more info on Viator.

Read our full review here: The Ramen Factory Tour Kyoto.

Summary

We hope you enjoyed exploring these Japanese cooking classes. The country of Japan has more food than one can try on a single trip. The staggering variety of street foods, family-style home kitchen-cooked meals, and popular restaurant items like ramen keep Japanese restaurants the world over in business. With these new skills, now you are ready to cook restaurant-quality food for yourself, your family, or your friends at home!

We’d love to hear which of the cooking classes in Japan has gained your interest and attention, or, which one you liked the most. Drop us a comment below to let us know.

Best of luck on your next Japanese cuisine adventure. Keep exploring, keep cooking, and keep eating!

Jonathan Mcnamara

Jonathan is a veteran of the Japan and Korean expat life. He lived in Japan and Korea for almost 10 years, and speaks Korean and Japanese. A blogger, a writer, website maker who's had his share of relationships while living abroad, he's now turned his attention to helping others navigate traveling, living, working, and relationships in Japan.

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